Telegraphic Transfers : All you need to know

5月 19, 2021

Understanding telegraphic transfers (TT)

A telegraphic transfer is an electronic method of transferring funds, utilized primarily for overseas wire transactions.

Originally, as the name suggests, telegraphs were used to communicate the transfer between financial institutions.

However, the telegraphs have become obsolete overtime, with modern technology now allowing cable networks to transfer funds. As a result, you may also see the telegraphic transfer being referred to by the more general term – wire transfer.

Telegraphic transfers are a safe way to send money overseas, but it is important to learn about it so you are aware of what is involved – and the limitations of this traditional method of cross border fund transfer.

How are telegraphic transfers (TT) processed?

Funds that are sent between institutions are typically transferred through the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) for international transfers.

Telegraphic transfer payments usually pass your money between several banks before it arrives at its destination. Each of these banks will have different fees, charges and processing times, which is why telegraphic transfers can be a little more costly and time-intensive than other money transfer services.

The network of banks that your money passes through is referred to as the SWIFT network. These banks are called “correspondent banks” because your money only passes between banks which have commercial relationships.

If the beneficiary has an account at a bank in which the sender’s bank has a commercial relationship with:

  • The sender instructs their local bank to send the funds to the beneficiary’s bank in the destination country, and this can usually be done at a bank branch or via online banking.
  • The sender’s bank sends the funds to the beneficiary’s account at that bank it deals with, and the funds are then credited, and the transaction is complete.  

If the beneficiary DOES NOT have an account at a bank in which the sender’s bank has a commercial relationship with:

  • If the beneficiary’s accounts are at another bank, the funds are then transferred again to the bank, at which point the transaction is then complete. It is possible that the funds will pass through two or more correspondent banks before it finally reaches the beneficiary’s bank.

Telegraphic Transfers (TT): The Fees

Whenever you make a telegraphic transfer out of Singapore, you will incur several fees. When you begin the transfer, you will be given the option of paying all the fees yourself or having the fees deducted from your recipients’ funds.

  • Sender’s bank fees
  • These are the fees that will incurred by the bank that you will be sending money from. Depending on your telegraphic transfer provider, fees could be up to $30 or more per transfer.
  • Recipient’s bank fees
  • These are the fees determined by the bank receiving the money.
  • Corresponding Bank Fees
  • These fees are incurred by corresponding banks. Sometimes, it may be unclear as to how much the corresponding banks are charging as different banks have different rates and charges.
  • Fees and commissions 
  • Standard charges that vary significantly from bank to bank and country to country. They are typically fixed or by variable amount charged on each transfer.
  • Exchange Rate Margin
  • Finally, it is important to remember that banks add margin to the exchange rate. This is to cover their own fees. While the margin will vary depending on your method of payment, banks generally charge more than other, more specialized money transfer services.

How do you send a Telegraphic Transfer?

If you want to send a telegraphic transfer payment, you’ll first need to ensure that you have all the correct documents in order to facilitate the payment. First, you’ll need your own details (name and bank account details). Then, you’ll need the recipient’s details, including the name of their bank, bank account number, name, address as well as contact information.

You may also need to include their IBAN number or SWIFT code. Once you’ve got the telegraphic transfer details together, it’s time to start sending the money. The telegraphic transfer payment procedure may differ between different banks, but generally it will follow these steps:

  • Find out where to make the transfer. You may need to go into a branch, but if your bank offers online telegraphic transfers, you won’t need to leave the house. You can find out this information by checking their website or calling customer service.
  • If you need to do the transfer in person, head into a branch with the necessary documentation and speak to a bank teller. They should be able to kickstart the telegraphic transfer payments.
  • If you can make an online telegraphic transfer, all you need to do is log into your online banking account and follow the instructions. Look for the section marked “International Payment”, “Wire Transfer”, “Send Money Overseas”, or so on.

The Limitations of Telegraphic Transfers

It has already been established that telegraphic transfer is an arduous and time-consuming process, where it may take anywhere between 2-3 days for the money to reach the beneficiary’s account. This can be problematic if the recipient is in urgent need of emergency wire transfers. It also affects the sender, who needs to track the payments.  

Since the transfer occurs from one country to another, the processing can take even longer due to different time zones, holidays and weekends. Not to mention, the transfer could even risk getting bounced.

For example, transfers into China are extremely tricky. International transfers are governed by The State Administration of Foreign Exchange of the People’s Republic of China (SAFE), a national regulatory agency that functions as an official state-run bureau under the People’s Republic of China and is part of the country’s central bank. Every single incoming transaction entering China is checked by SAFE before it enters any clearing banks, corresponding banks which finally reaches the beneficiary’s bank. These transfers at any point in time could risk being rejected and SAFE is not obliged to disclose the reason for rejected the transfer.

Are there any alternatives for me?

Thankfully, if you’re looking to save money and time on your cross-border payments, AP-1 Business is the solution for you.


The AP-1 Business account is an all-in-one business account that allows you to facilitate cross border payments while ensuring that you save time and save money every single time. AP-1 Business is the only business account that allows you to make cross border payments into China within T+1. AP-1 Business’ transparent low costs and real-time, direct FX rates form UnionPay, means you’re always getting the best deal whenever you facilitate your cross-border payments.

AP-1 Business does not only limit its abilities to facilitating cross border payments. It also offers businesses with more payment options for their customers, namely via UnionPay, WeChat Pay, PayNow, Discover, Diners Club and JCB.

AP-1 Business vs Telegraphic Transfers (TT) 


AP-1 Business

Telegraphic Transfer

Documents required

Only required at application process. Subsequent transactions can be facilitated immediately without the need to key in any bank details.

Identity and bank details have to be presented each time a telegraphic transfer is facilitated.

IBAN number or SWIFT code may also need to be included each time a telegraphic transfer is facilitated.

Sender’s bank fees

No

Yes

Recipient’s bank fees

No 

Yes

Corresponding Bank Fees

No 

Yes

Fees and commissions 

0.125%

Yes

Exchange Rate Margin

Best rates direct from UnionPay

Marked up depending on the bank you are transferring with

Time taken

1 day

5 days or more

Send Internationally

Yes

Yes

Send into China

Yes

Yes, but transfer may take longer and might risk getting rejected due to SAFE restriction

Directly credited into Chinese Bank Account

Yes

No, transfer will have to pass through a network of corresponding banks as telegraphic transfer is facilitated through the SWIFT network

How do you secure the best payment strategy for your businesses?

Choosing the right payment solution could make or break it for SMEs.

For a business to achieve sustainable success, it is vital that every single aspect of the organization needs to function as effectively as possible. You can offer the best products and services in your industry and have a killer sales and marketing plan to back it up, but unless you manage your business operations effectively, especially your payment solutions, all your efforts will struggle to achieve your desired levels of success.

Make the right decision with AP-1 Business today.

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